The Best Pop Songs of 2015: 80-61

Welcome to the second part of Diary of a Pop Fan’s Best Pop Songs of 2015 list. Let’s kick things off with a nice bit of soulful balladeering from Will Young shall we:

80) Will Young – Like A River

“Like A River” may not have been an official single from Will Young’s sixth studio effort 85% Proof but it was certainly the most beautifully understated track on the whole album.  I do love it when songs refuses to follow a traditional verse-chorus structure and on “Like A River” it only helps to intensify the drama on this smoldering, classy production

79) Cheryl – Only Human

Cheryl has produced some thumping good pop tunes over the years but ballads have never been her strong suit…until now. “Only Human” is the title track from Cheryl’s fourth studio album and her most personal effort to date. The Imogen Heap-esque ballad sees the Geordie songstress’ voice layered in vocoder in a not-unlike-Cher cerca 1998 fashion and, interestingly, she has never sounded more sincere.

78) Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly 

For the fourth single from their debut full length album Pharmacy the Swedish newcomers decided to go disco. As a result, “Peanut Butter Jelly” is one of the most explosive and feel good tunes of the year and it stood out on the radio for all the right reasons.

77) DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It

DJ Snake’s remix of London duo AlunaGeorge’s debut single breathed new life into the track, making it an international hit and a radio staple all throughout the summer. Like it or not, there was no getting away from that infectious hiccuping beat in 2015.

76) Zedd Feat. Selena Gomez – I Want You to Know

“I Want You to Know” may be a little by numbers but sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This euphoric, joyous pop delicacy comes courtesy of two stars at the top of their respective games and you’d better believe that no one was complaining this pairing.

75) Nicky Jam Feat. Enrique Iglesias – El Perdón

Following on from 2014’s hip-swivelling “Bailando”, Enrique was at it again this year, yet again producing what is undoubtedly THE Spanish language hit of 2015, . “El Perdon” was literally inescapable all summer long.

74) Sara Bareilles – She Used to Be Mine

One of 2015’s most random pop albums came from an unlikely source. Sara Bareilles’ fifth studio album What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress actually serves as the soundtrack to the stage adaption of the 2007 Adrienne Shelly film Waitress and lead single “She Used to Be Mine” perfectly encapsulates the main plot in one beautiful, vulnerable four and a half minute song.

73) Ariana Grande – One Last Time

Grande’s My Everything album was chock full of big tunes but for her fourth single she chose to take it down a notch with mid-tempo EDM ballad “One Last Time”. The production is flawless but it’s Grande’s angelic vocals which take centre stage here.

72) Robin Schulz Feat. Ilsey – Headlights

German producer Robin Schulz followed up a stellar 2014 with more entrancing deep house offerings this year. “Headlights”, the first single from his second studio album Sugar and focuses heavily on Isley’s ethereal, soaring vocals.

71) The Weeknd – The Hills

The Weeknd kept surprising us throughout 2015 and “The Hills” is a prime example of why he is one of the freshest things in pop right now. The spooky track somehow manages to combine hammer horror style screams with The Weeknd’s silky falsetto to create a something truly original and not to mention sexy.

70) Enya – Even In the Shadows

Irish songbird Enya is one of the biggest selling artists ever, having sold an estimated 80 million albums worldwide. After a lengthy 7 year absence, Enya returned this winter with her eight studio album Dark Sky Island which was met with universal praise and returned her to the top 10 across the globe. “Even In the Shadows” is shining example of Enya’s ability to transport the listener to another world and fits neatly into her already existing opus.

69) David Guetta Feat. Afrojack, Nicki Minaj & Bebe Rexha – Hey Mama

We always knew that an Afrojack and David Guetta hook up would be explosive but this four way tag team power tune far exceeded expectations. Tribal wailing never sounded this good!

68) One Direction – Drag Me Down

Among the slew of tears following One Direction’s announcement that they were going on hiatus appeared some of the boyband’s finest work. Made in the AM shakes off the faux rock shtick found  on Midnight Memories and Four in favour of full throttle pop anthems, the best of which is the irresistible lead single “Drag Me Down”.

67) Avicii – Waiting For Love

When I first heard this, I could have sworn it was Chris Martin singing on the track, but it turned out to be Simon Aldred from Cherry Ghost doing his best Martin impression. But once I got over that “Waiting for Love” turned out to be one of Avicii’s finest productions to date and features what is probably his stickiest synth line. Delectable.

66) Years and Years – Shine

This 80’s inspired piece of synthpop ensured that the London electronica trio had longevity past their Spring smash hit “King”. Once that huge chorus kicks in you soon fall under “Shine’s” spell and by the time the breakdown comes around, you’ll be begging for more.

65) OMI – Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)

Summer 2015’s most ubiquitous tune and one of the highest selling singles of the year. The insanely catchy sax loop on this track just drills into your brain and refuses to let go.

64) Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me

Norway has been knocking it out of the park the last couple of years in Eurovision but this year they surpassed themselves. “A Monster Like Me” is an intelligent, brooding classic ballad which boasts some of 2015’s most stellar harmonies. Sadly, the Eurovision 3 minute rule  does this haunting masterpiece an injustice. I could have done with another 2 minutes at least!

63) Iggy Azalea Feat. Jennifer Hudson – Trouble

This jaunty piano jam continued Iggy’s chart dominance into 2015. Her slick, punchy verses marry well with Jennifer’s sassy, soulful choruses. It’s good to hear good ol’ Hudders on the radio again after a series of recent flops.

62) Madonna – Joan of Arc

Not the best year for Madonna by any stretch of the imagination. Her comeback album Rebel Heart may have been a tad patchy but, when it was good, it was very good and “Joan of Arc” is a prime example of this. It’s one of Madonna’s most autobiographical songs and affords us a rare glimpse of vulnerability from the material girl.

61) Leona Lewis – Thunder

After breaking free from the gilded cage that was Simon Cowell’s record label, a newly liberated Leona Lewis burst free from her shackles and made a glorious comeback with this fighter anthem. She may have gone through the wringer to get to this point, but her music is all the better for it.

 

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment and share.

You can also listen to all the tracks on The Best Pop Songs of 2015 playlist:

spotify:user:1151803087:playlist:7fcwgDNbrmE4WWjkoRYAo1

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The Best Songs of 2015 So Far – Part 2

Et voila! Le long awaited second part to my Best Songs of 2015 So far!

40) Hozier – Someone New

Hozier Someone New

How do you follow up a super hit like “Take Me to Church”? Most people would pull out all the stops with a big eye-catching spectacle of a single. Not Hozier. “Someone New” shows him at his most sensitive and subtle. There is nothing big or bold about this single, just the same nuanced beautiful songwriting and spellbinding, commanding vocals. No complaints here.

39) Meghan Trainor – Lips Are Moving

lips are moving meghan trainor

After “All About that Bass” Trainor’s career could have sunk like a stone. The single was so overwhelmingly popular and borderline novelty that it was always going to be a mammoth challenge to follow it up. It really could have all ended there. But Trainor was sneaky and, by basically recreating “Bass” for her second single and electing to release it in January (a traditionally slow time for music) she managed to both bag herself a higher chart position. At the same time she also managed to provide ready consumable fodder for the public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for her calypso style doo wop stylings without taking any risks which could have potentially alienated her pre-existing audience. Still, “Lips Are Moving” is terrifically fun and chock full of personality and it seems that mouthy old Madame Trainor’s lips will be moving for a long time to come.

38) Meghan Trainor – Dear Future Husband

Meghan Trainor Dear Future Husband

Oh it’s her again! Yes Meghan added another smash to her belt earlier with this sassy and brassy jam. The feisty track proved actually that Trainor has outgrown her first smash “All About that Bass” and has completed her ascendance to the position of one of pop’s current it-girls. She’s not just bringing booty back. She’s also putting men in their place all over the shop and, at least for now, no one seems to mind all that much. And when the music’s this good, who cares?

37) Maroon 5 – Sugar

maroon 5 sugar

Does anyone else remember that time when Maroon 5 were literally pretty much kaput? Well, take a good hard look at them now why don’t you. This just proves that Mick Jagger’s moves really can work magic. They all but brought this group back from the dead. Recent release “Sugar” continues the group’s winning streak, becoming the biggest hit off their current album V. The song also shows frontman Adam Levine using his ability to communicate with bats through sounds so sonically high pitched that they are almost inaudible for human ears.

36) Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You

Carly rae jepsen i really like you

I was so pleased when I heard that Carly Rae Jepsen was coming back. I always had faith that she was more than just “Call Me Maybe” and finally my patience paid off. “I Really Like You” shows Jepsen at the top of her game. She never claimed to be a master lyricist or to produce deep and meaningful songs, she is quite simply put, a fun popstar like in the good old days of Britney cerca 2000. When it comes to sophomore albums, the artist’s whole future hangs in the balance. If not done right, they may never sell a record again (Duffy…) or at the very least just fade into obscurity. With a hit like “I Really Like You” under her belt, Carly stands a good chance of not falling into that sad, depressing category.

35) Britney Spears Feat. Iggy Azalea – Pretty Girls

Britney Spears Feat. Iggy Azalea – Pretty Girls

People have been throwing shade all over this song. Even writers Little Mix appeared on radio saying that they didn’t think the track was good enough for their new album and so they scrapped it, only for Britney to pick it up later. Contrary to popular option, I think that any Britney comeback single “Pretty Girls” is a cause for celebration, especially because it’s just the type of track that Britney should be doing: a fun, bubbly track full of personality and catchy hooks. Also, more to the point, I don’t know how many more flop singles Britney can take before she shaves her head again and I don’t want to find out…

I have to admit that this parody is pretty funny:

34) Marlon Roudette – When the Beat Drops Out

marlon roudette when the beat drops out

Marlon Roudette has produced more than just another run of the mill throwaway dance hit with “When the Beat Drops Out”. First of all, the use of the steel drum is genius as it immediately transports the listener to a tropical Jamaican island (with air con) and the absolute ruthless effectiveness of the hook “Bassline I will always make time” is undeniable. If, like me, you are incapable of getting it out of your head, the only thing I can suggest is a full lobotomy.

33) Ed Sheeran & Rudimental – Bloodstream (Remix)

ed sheeran rudimental bloodstream

“Bloodstream” was never actually one of my favourites off X. I never really got into it for some reason and I was actually a bit pissed off when I heard that it was going to be a single before “Photograph”. But Rudimental’s single remix was a complete game changer for me. It brought the song to life and even made me like the original more. However, I do believe the remix is superior as it builds and builds like a quiet storm ranging under the surface which reflects the emotions that Ed is trying to get across with this song. It’s smart moves like this that have led to his being the biggest male singer in the world right now.

32) Jason Derulo – Want to Want Me

jason derulo want to want me

Derulo is actually racking up quite the stash of chart smashes. Who could have predicted that he would actually still be around so long after his debut? But as long as he remains this inventive it seems he is going nowhere.  “Want You to Want Me” enjoyed a month’s reign as the highest selling single in the UK, no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination. As one of the premier pulsating, throbbing synth pop jams of 2015, “Want You to Want Me” is every bit what pop should sound like in 2015 and Derulo’s ball shattering falsetto is always welcome.

31) Karen Harding – Say Something

karen harding say something

This one was pretty out of left field I must say. Who would have expected a track this current and fresh sounding from a girl who once auditioned for the X Factor but was eliminated at the Boot Camp stage. She didn’t even make it to the final 12! Neither did she manage to represent the UK in Eurovision when she had a pop at that. How she managed to go from that to having a top ten UK debut single is beyond me. It’s probably best that she didn’t get through to the X Factor auditions, “Say Something” is about as anti-Simon Cowell as you can get which probably has something to do with the fact that it was produced by MNEK, one of the go-to producers of the moment (he was behind Gorgon City’s smash last year “Ready for Your Love”). “Say Something” is unashamedly 90’s and features a killer bassline that just begs to be turned up loud. It’s also pretty good to hear that a fellow northerner is kicking some ass in the UK. Hailing from Consett, County Durham, she is about as northern as it gets. Respect!

30) David Guetta Feat. Afrojack, Nicki Minaj and Bebe Rexha – Hey Mama

David Guetta Feat. Afrojack, Nicki Minaj and Bebe Rexha – Hey Mama

A mammoth collaboration between two DJ heavyweights, the leading lady of rap and an up and coming star in the making. It’s a powerful and, most importantly, interesting track. Everyone is on top form here and the combo of Guetta’s pop sensibilities and Afrojack’s harder sound makes for a truly exhilarating collab.

29) Florence and the Machine – Ship to Wreck

Florence and the Machine - Ship to Wreck

It’s been way too long since we had a new Florence album. I literally adored her first two LPs and expectations were high for her to make it a trio of successes. When she did drop How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful at first I was a little underwhelmed but the album has slowly grown and grown on me since I bought it. It is true what the critics say, Florence’s new sound does have a whiff of Americanisation which has stifled some of her creative prowess, but luckily for us it takes a bit more than some crashing drums to dampen that effervescent personality. “Ship to Wreck” is my personal favourite from the album as it shows Florence at her wildest and most waily. I’m a fan of the wailing. To WREEEEEEEEEEEEECK!

28) Charli XCX Feat. Rita Ora – Doing It

charli xcx rita ora doing it

After bratty, fun-loving Charli XCX’s second single “Break the Rules” only scraped into the top 35 and failed to replicate the success of “Boom Clap” I was quite worried as to her music industry future, but one listen to “Doing It” and my fears melted away. “Doing It” is a loud and proud pure pop confection which is aimed squarely at the jugular of the singles chart. It’s infinitely playable and catchy as a cold. Of course, Rita Ora’s feature adds nothing here but starpower. Either way I mostly just listen to the original Rita-less album version anyway.

27) Morland and Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me

Morland and Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me

Norwegian singer Morland’s choice to enter “A Monster Like Me” for Eurovision 2015 troubles me. In some ways I really wish he hadn’t entered it because the song is clearly of a different ilk to the usual Eurovision fare. Dare I say, it’s a lot better quality than most Eurovision entries. The pesky 3 minute length rule for all Eurovision songs has clearly sold “A Monster Like Me” short as well. The track could do with another minute or so as it is so sparse and brooding that it needs the extra time to breathe and build to a crescendo. Nevertheless, they have done a good job in creating as much atmosphere and tension as is possible to fit into 3 minutes and the harmonies are hauntingly beautiful. However, I always feel like I want a bit more after it finishes. The fact that it only finished 8th in the competition is quite insulting as well. Embarrassing for both Eurovision and for the singers. However, on the flipside, if it hadn’t been entered into Eurovision, we would have probably never heard it. Quite the dilemma that one…

26) Martin Garrix Feat. Usher – Don’t Look Down

Martin Garrix Feat. Usher – Don’t Look Down

Not a massive Usher fan but Garrix really managed to get the best out of him with this track. His voice is perfectly suited to this type of euphoric track and it just makes me wonder why he doesn’t do songs like this all the time. Garrix has been unstoppable recently and “Don’t Look Down” the cream of the crop. It’s a pure festival tune which is destined to be chanted by thousands of sweaty 20-something year olds all summer.

25) Adam Lambert – Ghost Town

ghost town adam lambert

I had all but given up on Adam Lambert after his so-so sophomore effort Trespassing but boy was I proved wrong. “Ghost Town” is a powerful statement. A triumphal return for a quality popstar. The fulfilment of so much potential that was going to waste on mediocre material, which is a beautiful thing. Adam on “Ghost Town” is just pure fabulousness and it warms the heart to know that he has finally found a way to channel his diva-ish tendencies into creating quality 90’s inspired witch house anthems.

24) DJ Snake Feat. AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It

Dj Snake AlunaGeorge You Know you like it

DJ Snake is everywhere at the minute. And this reworking of AlunaGeorge’s original single is among some of his best work. On “You Know You Like It” Snake transforms the original into a dance floor filler which has sent it surging up into the US top 20. The whole affair is just pure chart euphoria all round and who could resist when those ethereal, child-like vocals morph into squelchy, androgynous stuttering to make a truly irresistible chorus.

23) Marina & the Diamonds – I’m a Ruin

marina and the diamond im a ruin froot

“I’m a Ruin” is such a pleasant surprise from Marina and the Diamonds. I didn’t believe that she had this much depth if I’m honest but “I’m a Ruin” somehow manages to be truly heart-breaking in a way that lots of pop songs just aren’t capable of. On the track Marina shows her vulnerability and she is honest to a fault, which is something that very few popstars actually are nowadays. It’s clear that she gives us everything on “I’m a Ruin” and, in doing so, she create something truly special that deserves to be lauded as one of the best ballads in recent times. A triumph for mid-tempo pop.

22) Blonde Feat. Melissa Steel – I Loved You

blonde i loved you

The arrival of “I Loved You” introduced us to a brand new dance production group Blonde who have now turned into one of Britain’s foremost talents. The rushing, surging backing drum beat on “I Loved You” gives a sense of urgency and Melissa Steel’s impassioned vocals blend the whole production together. Club ready and epic.

21) Iggy Azalea Feat. Jennifer Hudson – Trouble

jennifer hudson iggy azalea trouble

Jennifer Hudson is US Billboard chart poison. Everything she does lately just bombs, even when she is coupled with one of raps biggest stars at the minute. “Trouble” managed to go top ten in Australia, UK and many other markets, but it barely made an impact in the US. Is there something we’re missing? Even if it had come out that she was a massive bitch (highly unlikely), WHO CARES? Chris Brown still sells shedloads despite his “Rihanna incident” (the less we speak about that the better), so I just don’t get it why JHud can’t seem to bag a US hit. “Trouble” is witty, catchy and as inventive as you like. It sounds like nothing else on the radio at the minute with its retro vibe and plonkety piano line. The video itself was great too. You really just can’t win with some people. Nevermind, the rest of the world will keep it all to themselves.

Thank you for ready and feel free to leave any comments or suggestions

Unguilty Pleasure No.13: Bucks Fizz – The Land of Make Believe

Now since I’m a bit behind with my Unguilty Pleasures I’ve decided to give you all a little monday afternoon boost in the form of Unguilty Pleasure No.13. Hopefully the unmitigated poptasticness of this one will make up for my tardiness. Enjoy….

“The Land of Make Believe” by Bucks Fizz

Despite being specifically formed for Eurovision 1981, Bucks Fizz became a rare exception to the rule as group whose popularity actually managed to transcend the competition which allowed them to enjoy a rather illustrious career for the rest of the 80’s.

Bucks Fizz Eurovision
They use this photo to teach kids about primary colours nowadays

First things first, you can’t mention Bucks Fizz without noting the great success of their debut single and Eurovision winner “Making Your Mind Up”, which went on to become one of the most successful songs in the competition ever and was a smash hit throughout Europe, peaking at No.1 in 8 countries and selling over 4 million copies worldwide. The part of the song where the boys in the group rip off the girls skirts has gone down as a defining moment in Eurovision history and the song’s enduring popularity meant that it was voted the best-ever British Eurovision entry by Radio 2 listeners in 2013. Still, they could have just left it there, but Bucks Fizz had other plans.

Bucks Fizz skirt rip gif
That was quite scandalous for 80’s Eurovision. And then came Conchita Wurst….

“The Land of Make Believe” was Bucks Fizz’s big, make-or-break comeback single after whirlwind success of “Making Your Mind Up”. Not many Eurovision acts get past this difficult second album, but Bucks Fizz managed to go one step further and surpass their previous success, with “The Land of Make Believe” going on to outsell “Making Your Mind Up” in their native UK. They also followed it up with another rapid fire No.1 “My Camera Never Lies” which extended their unbroken run of top 20 hits and officially solidified the group as one of the biggest acts of the 80’s.

Bucks Fizz Land of Make Believe
There’s just too much to say about this. I’m having a pithy comment overload here

“The Land of Make Believe” more than lives up to its title and cleverly straddles the fine line between fantastical and ridiculous. The hushed, almost whispered vocals contribute a mystical quality which entrances the listener, leaving them unable to shake the Bucks Fizz enchantment. The creepy, rhyming child voice which serves as a prologue and epilogue for the song sets the tone from the word go and contributes a whimsical quality. On the other hand, if you read into the lyrics too much apparently you can manage to glean an anti-Thatcher message if you try hard enough. I can’t really say for certain but I think the song implies that she is a kind of boogie man figure who is waiting to corrupt children with this line being quoted as evidence “something nasty in your garden, waiting, till it can steal your heart”.

Thatcher evil
Be it straightforward pop or a politically charged “The Land of Make Believe” managed to exceed all expectations when it spent two weeks at No.1 in January 1982, dethroning Human League’s now classic stalker jam “Don’ t You Want Me”. “The Land of Make Believe” also managed to finish the decade as the 41st biggest single of the 80’s in the UK. Not bad for a band put together for Eurovision.
Favourite Lyric: “Not for all the tea in china. All the corn in Carolina”
Diary of a Pop Fan warns that this video is seriously surreal and may result in trippy consequences:

Your Guide to Eurovision 2014

It’s almost Eurovision time again! One of the biggest musical (hilarity) events of the calendar year! In this post I’m going to give you lovely people a run-down of all the contestants you need to know about before the big day on May 10th.  The first point to make upon considering the list of candidates is that there are no massive stand outs like last year’s Zlata Ognevich’s “Gravity” and Emmelie de Forest’s “Only Teardrops”, let alone any instant classic like 2012’s “Euphoria” by Loreen. Indeed, the race is a lot more open than it has been in recent years which makes for quite exciting viewing. There are however several acts which are head and shoulders above the rest. Here’s my top ten Eurovision entries this year:

10)    Greece –  Freaky Fortune Feat. Riskykidd – Rise Up

Greece Eurovision 2014
Freaky Fortune

Greece has taken a risk entering “Rise Up” into Eurovision. As we all know what’s popular in the Eurovision Song Contest doesn’t really represent what’s popular in the actual music charts and, while Greece’s entry this year may end up filling dance floors across Europe, it’s not likely to appeal to Eurovision fans, not to mention the jury. However, it makes up for its lack of lyrical content by its sheer catchiness. This will probably get through to the final but not really bother the top five.

9) Ireland:     Can-linn Feat. Kasey Smith – Heartbeat

Ireland Eurovision 2014
Can-linn Feat. Kasey Smith

It’s a surprising coincidence that both the UK and Ireland have started trying again this year. Maybe it was a joint New Year’s resolution. Either way, “Heartbeat” is a most welcome effort from one of Eurovision’s former leading nations. The addition of a prominent fiddle-line during the chorus is a great idea as playing up your ethnicity usually does well in Eurovision. There’s even a bit of river dance. I’ll let you decide whether that’s overkill or not. Though it almost definitely won’t win, this might end up being Ireland’s first top ten-finish since Jedward. What an act to follow.

8) Sweden:   Sanna Nielsen – Undo

Sweden Eurovision 2014
Sanna Nielsen

If at first you don’t succeed try and try again. That has been Sanna Nielsen’s mantra for years and finally her serial Eurovision applications (she has applied to be Sweden’s entry seven times!) bore fruit. “Undo” is without a doubt one of the classier entries this year and is one of the favourites to take home the Eurovision crown, which would be ever so slightly annoying seeing as Sweden last won it in 2012 and we don’t want them dominating the competition. The song also has some fishy lyrics going on: “undo my sad”…Is she trying to tell us that her ex has given her Season Affective Disorder (SAD)? Despite this however, the piano hook is very catchy and Sanna’s vocal performance is of very high quality. This is pretty much nailed on for a top five- finish, if not first.

7) Italy:   Emma – La Mia Città

Italy Eurovision 2014
Emma – La Mia Città

This offering from Italy is without a doubt a grower. A really didn’t like it the first time I heard it because I felt it was a bit shouty and irritating. But actually, after a few listens I realised I had judged it a bit too quickly and that it’s actually one of the best this year. Emma’s vocal performance is unique and ballsy, a fact which makes her stand out in the field. This entry, along with Israel’s are probably the most rocky this year, which might work to their detriment as Eurovision seems to be favouring dubstep inspired ballads this year (Sweden, Armenia) . However, Italy probably will end up top ten anyway as they tend to do well in the contest.

6) Romania:     Paula Seling & Ovi – Miracle

Romania Eurovision 2014
Paula Seling and Ovi

This was one of the first songs to be released for submission to Eurovision and was an early leader from the start. Eurovision veterans Paula Seling and Ovi’s dance-infused floor filler “Miracle” is a perfect blend of cheesiness and soaring vocals. The result is rather disposable however, and pales in comparison to the duo’s previous entry “Playing with Fire” which managed to finish third in 2010. The pair need to polish the live vocals as well as previous performances of “Miracle”  have been less than joyous to listen to, but if they manage to nail it on the night this could have a chance.

5) Norway:   Carl Espen – Silent Storm

Norway Eurovision 2014
Carl Espen

Another one of the bookies’ favourites and one of the more understated entries this year. Perhaps too understated for Eurovision. I can see this doing well though but whether it’s enough to win is another question. Espen’s performance leaves a lot to be desired as well, not quite Adele. But the end result is nice enough with the song building throughout into a sweeping crescendo.

4) Denmark:      Basim – Cliché Love Song

Denmark Eurovision 2014
Basim

After the elegant panpipe-lead torch song “Only Teardrops” I expected something slightly classier from last year’s winner Denmark. But then again, it’s Eurovision. Who said anything about being classy and indeed, this year’s entry from Denmark is nothing of the sort. It’ a blatant copy of Bruno Mars for starters and its chorus features the line “scooby dooby doo” (Zoinks!). But it’s a sweet enough song and it’s insanely catchy from the first listen. Maybe this is what Eurovision needs after several years of serious songs winning the competition.

3) Spain:   Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing in the Rain

Spain Eurovision 2014
Ruth Lorenzo

A curveball from the Spanish side this year, sending in a former UK X Factor contestant Ruth Lorenzo who has been under the radar since her top 5 finish in 2008 under the mentorship of Ms. Danni Minogue. Always the rock balladeer Ruth has played to her strengths with her love power ballad “Dancing in the Rain”. Disclaimer. It’s seriously epic. No seriously. From the rain drenched slo-mo video to those drawn out high notes such epic-ness harks back to such 80’s epics like Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” and Bonnie Tyler (name check a former Eurovision contestant) with “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Of course, this can be only a good thing as a good bombastic performance is usually looked upon favourably in the context of Eurovision. However, Spain has never been a massive player in Eurovision, having only won the contest twice before and even 2012’s majestic Pastora Soler only managed to scrape a top ten finish.

2)  Israel:    Mei Feingold – Same Heart

Israel Eurovision 2014
Mei Feingold

People are hailing this woman as Israel’s answer to Lady Gaga. While she’s not quite as gaudy or over the top as Mother Monster, you can detect hints of Gaga-esque showmanship in her guitar-driven break up anthem “Same Heart”. Her performance sometimes goes overboard into slightly aggressive territory, a fact which is perpetuated by the disturbing lyric “I’m skinning you out” (I can only assume this lyric was Hannibal inspired). To add to that, Hebrew is not the prettiest language to sing in (sorry guys!) but Mei makes up for that by throwing some awesome shapes in the video. The song is really catchy too and if she puts in a good performance with a routine like the one in the video she might be in with a shot this year.

1) United Kingdom:     Molly Smitten Downes – Children of the Universe

UK Eurovision 2014
Molly Smitten Downes

Liverpudlian Molly’s anthemic tune is without a doubt the best entry submitted by the BBC since the last time the UK took home the Eurovision trophy in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves’ anthemic “Love Shine a Light”. Many people believe that UK has a bit too much emotional and political baggage to ever be able to win again, here’s hoping that Molly will be able to dispel the haters. “Children of the Universe” is certainly our classiest entry in ages and the fact that Molly can actually sing is always a good sign. The chorus is a real earworm too. I can’t let my hopes get too high though. Power to the People!!

 


Honorable Mentions

  • Armenia: Aram MP3 – Not Alone
Armenia Eurovision 2014
Aram MP3

I have to include this one as it’s currently the bookies’ favourite for some reason but I think it’s just hideous. Everything is wrong with it: the beginning is boring and the second half is just noisy and messy. Absolute rubbish. Have no clue why it is even a Eurovision entry. Knowing my luck though it’ll probably win.

  • Hungary: Kallay Saunders – Running
Hungary Eurovision 2014
Kallay Saunders

Again I had to include this one because it’s one of the favourites, but it gets boring really quickly. I liked it the first time but it got old after the third listen. The singer isn’t very interesting at all and fails to carry the song, which itself is just average.

  • Austria: Conchita Wurst – Rise like a Phoenix
Austria Eurovision 2014
Conchita Wurst

Without a doubt ESC 2014’s most controversial entry. This has been doing quite well actually in the Eurovision polls but it’s also been getting a lot of hate for the singer’s image (a transvestite with a beard). There was also some controversy over the Armenian entry criticising Conchita (probably just misinterpreted). The song actually stands on its own merits however as an overblown, Bond-esque theme, which in anyone else’s hands would probably challenge Sanna Nielsen for the Eurovision crown. Either way, this is definitely the wildcard this year.

  • Ukraine: Maria Yaremchuk – Tick Tock
Ukraine Eurovision 2014
Maria Yaremchuk

This enry has been tweaked more times than Cher’s face. First of all it contained the lines “tricky tricky talk talk talk” but then this was deemed too silly (nothing is too silly for Eurovision). Then a hideous broken down ballad version appeared which stripped away the backing beat (and with it all the fun), thereby exposing the embarrassing lyrics. Then finally a new jazzier version was released with the lyrics having been inexplicably changed. Hopefully this will be the final incarnation of this song, but I wouldn’t put it past Ukraine to mess around with “Tick-Tock” before the semis. The song is ok but I still prefer the first version (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). Im predicting top ten for this, but it won’t be one of Ukraine’s best performers, especially not in the wake of the magnificent Zlata Ognevich last year.


Best of the Worst

  • France: Twin Twin – Moustache
France Eurovision 2014
Twin Twin

France seems to have swapped places with the UK this year, opting to send in an ironic parody which mocks the whole concept of Eurovision ( I wouldn’t mind if it were a good song but it’s just rubbish)

  • Belarus: Teo –Cheesecake
Belarus Eurovision 2014
Teo

This manages to achieve the perfect mix of parody and awfulness which France was going for this year. Belarus’ answer to Robin Thicke shows off some dodgy hip movements in his performance and what is going on with the facial hair. Now really!

  • Latvia: Aarzemnieki – Cake to Bake
Latvia Eurovision 2014
Aarzemnieki

I secretly like this one. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is built around a really catchy melody. Sadly it’s predicted to sink like the titanic.

 

 

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